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Full text of "Joseph K. F. Mansfield, brigadier general of the U.S. Army. A narrative of events connected with his mortal wounding at Antietam, Sharpsburg, Maryland, September 17, 1862"

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Joseph K. F. Mansfield, 




Sharpsburg, Maryland, 

September 17, 18G2. 


Late Actinc; Adjitant IOtii Maink Volunteers, 
AND Major 20th Maink Veteran Vols. 









Joseph King Fenno Mansfield was born in New Haven, Conn., 
December 22, 1803. His early education was obtained in the 
common schools of his state. At the age of fourteen he entered 
the military academy at West Point, being the youngest of a 
class of forty. During the five years of his course, he was a 
careful and earnest student, especially distinguishing himself 
in the sciences, and graduating in 1822, second in his class. 

He was immediately promoted to the Corps of Engineers, in 
which department he served thoughout the Mexican war. In 
1832 he was made 1st Lieutenant; three years later Captain. 

His gallantry and efficiency during the Mexican war were re- 
warded by successive brevets of Major, Lt.-Colonel and Colonel 
of Engineers. 

In 1853 Mansfield was appointed Inspector General of the 
army, and in the prosecution of his duties visited all parts of 
the country. 

At the outbreak of the War of the Rebellion he was in the 
Northwest, but in April, 1861, was summoned to Washington to 
take command of the forces there. On May 17, 1861, Mans- 
field was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in the reg- 
ular army. 

He rendered valuable service at Fortress Monroe, Newport 
News, Suffolk, and finally at Antietam, where he was mortally 
wounded, September 17, 1862. 

• 61505 



It was bad enough and sad enough that Gen. Mans- 
field should be mortally wounded once, but to be 
wounded six, seven or eight times in as many locali- 
ties is too much of a story to let stand unchallenged. 

These pages will tell what the members of the loth 
Maine Regiment know of the event, but first we will 
state what others have claimed. 

The following places have been pointed out as the 
spot where Mansfield was wounded and all sorts of 
particulars hav^e been given. Besides these a man 
with a magic-lantern is traveling through the country 
showing Burnside's bridge, and remarking, " Here 
Mansfield fell." 

The spot marked A on the map is said to have 
been vouched for by a " New York officer of Mans- 
field's staff." 

B is where the late David R. Miller understood the 
General was wounded by a sharpshooter stationed in 
Miller's barn, west of the pike. 

C is where Capt. Gardiner and Lieut. Dunegan, of 
Co. K, 1 25th Penn. Vols., assured me* that the General 
fell from his horse in front of their company. 

*Sept. 17, 1891. 


D is where, in November, 1894, I found. a marker, 
that had been placed there the October previous, by 
some one unknown to me. These are the four prin- 
cipal placQS which have been pointed out to visitors. 
Still another spot was shown to our party when the 
i-io-29th Maine Regiment Association made its first 
visit to the field, Oct. 4, 18S9; it is south of A, but 
I did not note exactly where. 

E. There has also been published in the National 
Tribune, which has an immense circulation among 
the soldiers, the statement* of Col. John H. Keatley, 
now Commandant of the Soldier's Home, Marshall- 
town, Iowa, who locates the place near the Dunker 

Col. Keatley\s letters show that he has been on the 
field several times since the war, which makes it harder 
to believe what would seem very plain otherwise, that 
his memory of locations has failed him. He appears 
to have got the recollection of the two woods mixed. 
Keatley was Sergeant of Co. A, the extreme left of 
the 125th Penn. 

*Tlie brigade [Crawford's] had reached a point close to the Ilagorstowu 
pike, with the left almost touching the Dunker Church. The brigade was 
within 50 yards of the turnpike, ready to cross over and into the woods 
lining the road on the opposite side. These woods were filled with Stone- 
wallJackson's troops; andtheinsharpshooters in the foliage were picking off 
officers. * * Notwithstanding the hazard, Gen. Mansfield, instead of send- 
ing a staff officer to direct the movement of the troops toward the point in- 
tended by him, rode forward himself and gave personal- directions, wholly 
in a matter of detail (the alignment of a single regiment that was making an 
effort to dress on its colors), and when engaged in that unimportant duty of 
detail for a corps commander, was shot from the woods and almost instantly 

[National Tribune, Washington, D. C, Nov. 16, 1893. 


Mr. Alexander Davis, who resided and worked on 
the field before and after the battle, points out a place 
several rods northeast of the present residence of 
Millard F. Nicodemus (built since the war and not 
shown on the map). Some Indiana troops were the 
supposed original authority for this place, which is 
not far from B. It is only fair to Mr. Davis to add 
that he claims no personal knowledge. 

There are several other places that have been de- 
scribed to me in private letters, but these need no 
mention here. 


Why has there been so much difficulty in identify- 
ing the right locality? 

There has been no difficulty, none whatever, among 
those who knew the facts. The errors have all come 
from the ignorant, the imaginative, and those who 
have poor memories. 

It will be easy, especially for one standing on the 
ground while reading these pages, to see that very 
few except the loth Maine would witness the event, 
as we were so nearly isolated and almost hidden. 
We made very little account at the time, of what is 
now considered an important event in the history of 
the battle. It then apjDcared to us as only one of the 
many tragedies in the great slaughter. Nothing was 
done at the time to mark the spot, and hardly a note 
of the event was recorded. 



In 1889, the i-io-29th Maine Regiment* Associa- 
tion made an excursion to the various battle fields in 
Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia where the regi- 
ment had fought. Friday, October 4th, was the day 
of the visit to Antietam. Not one of the company 
had been there for twenty-five years, yet on arriving 
in East Woods we readily and surely identified the 
fighting position of the regiment, which was known 
as the " Tenth Maine," at the time of the battle. We 
found that the west face of the woods had been con- 
siderably cut away, and that many of the trees inside 
the woods had been felled, but there was no serious 
change in the neighborhood where we fought, except- 
ing that a road had been laid out exactly along the 
line of battle where we fired our first volley. We 
have since learned that in 1872, the County bought a 
fifteen feet strip of land, 961 feet long, bordering that 
part of the northeast edge of the woods, which lies 
between Samuel Poffenberger's lane and the Smoke- 
town road, and moved the " worm fence " fifteen feet 
into the field.! Excepting as these changes affected 

* These three organizations were virtually one. The 1st Kegiment, after 
serving three months in 18G1, re-organized as the 10th, to serve till May, 
1863, when it was again recruited and re-organized as the 29th, to serve 
three years more. Tlie 10th Battalion was that portion of the 10th Regi- 
ment which was not discharged in ISG'-l. Excepting eiglit weeks in the fall 
of 1861, the regiment or battalion was in " the field " during the entire war, 
and for more than a year afterward. 

t The map does not show this new or " Keedysville road." It now runs 
directly past Michael Miller's gate to Sam Poffenberger's, thence up Sam's 
old lane to the woods, there turning west enters the Smoketown road, where 
the right of the 10th Maine fought — near M on the map. The lane from 


the view, all agreed that everything in our vicinity 
had a " natural look." The chief features were " the 
bushes," directly in rear of our right companies ; the 
Croasdale Knoll, further to the right and rear ; the 
Smoketown Road, which enters East Woods between 
the bushes and the Knoll, and runs past our front 
through the woods; the low land in our right front; 
the " open," easily disccrnable through the woods; 
the rising land with its ledges, big and little, in the 
front ; the denser woods in the left front ; the worm 
fence before noted, and the long ledge behind it, 
against which our left companies sheltered themselves 
by Captain Jordan's thoughtful guidance ; and the 
gully beginning in the rear of bur position and lead- 
ing down to the great stone barn and stone mansion,* 
with its immense spring of water. 

The large oak in rear of our right, to which Col. 
Beal crawled after he was wounded, was still standing 
a few paces up (northeast) the Smoketown road, and 
another good sized tree nearer the front was recog- 
nized by Capt. (then Sergt.) Goss as the one from 
which he first opened fire. Lt.-Col. Emerson (Capt. 
of H, the right Co.) stood where he stood in 1862 and 
pointed out to our guests place after place which he 

Many of " the bushes " of 1862 had grown into siz- 
able trees ; they, with Beal's and Goss's trees and the 

M. Miller's to Morrison's lias been closed, and also that part of Sam's lane 
which was in East Woods. 

* Samuel PofEenberger's. Erroneously marked Dunbar's Mills on the old 


Smoketown road fence, had been a serious obstacle to 
the advance of our right companies. 

The scar, or depression in the ground, where we 
had buried a few of our dead (northeast of Beal's tree), 
was still visible, but repeated plowing since 1889 has 
entirely effaced it. 

Our excursion was entirely for pleasure ; we had 
no thought of controversy, nor even of the enlight- 
enment of the Sharpsburg people, who knew nothing 
of the true locality where Mansfield was wounded, 
but were showing two or three erroneous places to 
visitors. We defended the truth, photographed the 
position, but found it difficult for several reasons to 
decide by several feet upon the exact spot of the 

It is necessary now to go back to 1862 and tell the 
story of the battle as seen by the loth Maine; and 
as since the war a generation has grown up that 
knows nothing of the way soldiers are arranged for 
marching and fighting, it is best to give a great many 
explanations that may seem unnecessary to an old 


The 12th Army Corps, Mansfield commanding, 
marched on the Boonsboro pike, late at night of Sept. 
1 6th, from "the center" through Keedysville to the 
farm of George Line (G. Lyons on the old maps) and 
there rested till daybreak. Gen. Mansfield slept on 
the west side of a fence which ran south from Line's 


garden to woods. I lis bed was tlic grass and l^is roof a 
blanket. The lotli Maine was on tlie east side of the 
fence (see map), and some of onr boys who indulged 
in loud talk were ordered by the General to lower 
their tones to a whisj^er. The other regiments of 
our brigade were near us, while the other brigades of 
the corps apj^eared to be behind ours (or east). 
Our brigade* was the advance of the corp\s, and 
marched a little before s o'clock on the mornin^'- of 
the battle, first to the west across the Smokctown 
road, and nearly to John Poffenberger's, and then 
south to nearly abreast of Joseph Poffenberger's 
(marked 6.20 on the maj:)), and there h;dted for almost 
an hour, during all of which tin'ie, that is from before 
5 A. M., Hooker's corps was fighting in and around 
" the great cornfield," the enemy being south and 
west of it. 

As well as could be judged, all of the 12th corps 
followed our movements, and halted to the right or 
left of the rear of our brigade. 

The 124th and 125th Penn. were detached from 
the brigade at some early hour, but at 7,20 by my 
watch, which may have been five to ten minutes fast, 
the other four regiments were started for the fight. 

The loth Maine w^as guided by Gen. Mansfield in 
person. We had all seen him for some time previ- 
ous sitting on his horse at the northwest corner of 
the East Wood, marked W on the map. He hurried 

* Crawford's brigade, 4(5threnn., Col. Kiiipe; 10th Maine, Col. Beal; 28th 
N.Y., fragment, Capt. Mapes; VIAVlx Penn., Col. Hawley; 12r)th Penn., Col. 
liiggins; 128th Penn., Col. Samuel Croasdale (killed.) 


US, first to the front, down hill through a field where 
several piles of stone lay, the Smoketown road still 
being on our left. We barely entered the *' ten acre 
cornfield " when Mansfield beckoned us to move to 
our left. We then marched a few steps by what the 
tactics call " Left oblique," but did not gain ground 
to the left sufficiently to suit the General, so Col. 
Beal commanded " Left flank," whereupon each man 
faced east, and we presently knocked over the two 
fences of the Smoketown road and marched into 
Sam Poffenberger's field. Wliile going across the 
Smoketown road Gen. Hooker rode from the woods 
(M) and told Col. Beal '' The enemy are breaking 
through my lines ; you must hold these woods," 
(meaning East Woods.) 

After crossing the road, bullets from the enemy 
began to whiz over and around us. WHien well into 
Sam Poffenberger's field the Colonel commanded 
" Right flank," then each man again faced south (or 
west of south to be more exact) and we all marched 
straight for the enemy, whom some of us could see in 
the woods, close to where our Mansfield marker is 
now standing, marked M on the map. 

The loth Maine was in " double column at half 
distance " (or "double column in mass," as some re- 
member.) , 


Left. v> =^===: =^^^^= K Iliffht. 


Each line in the diagram represents about 15 men 
all facing " front." In this order we had bivouacked and 
marched to Sam Poffenberger's field, only that while 
in the ten acre corn field every man turned on his 
left heel and marched toward what had been the " left," 
until arriving in Sam Poffenberger's field, where a 
turn of each man to his right, or the technical "front," 
brought us to our original position. 

Apparently fifty to a hundred Confederates were 
strung along the fence (M) firing at us. They had 
the immense advantage that they could rest their 
rifles on the fence and fire into us, massed ten ranks 
deep, while we could only march and "take it." 

It was high time to deploy,* and Col. Beal pro- 
posed to do so, but Gen. Mansfield said " No," and re- 
marked that a regiment can be easier handled " in 
mass " than " in line " ; which is very true in the 
abstract. Gen. Mansfield then rode away, and Col. 
Beal, hardly waiting for him to get out of sight, or- 
dered the regiment to deploy in double quick time. 
Everybody felt the need of haste. 

In the execution of this order Companies I and G, 
with the color guard, continued marching straight 
ahead at the ordinary step, just as if no order had 

*Tliat is, to bring the men "into line" — the position they sliould be in 
for finhting; since wliile in muss, only Companies I and G could fire their 
muskets, while a fairly well aimed bullet from tlu' enemy would be almost 
sure to hit cue or more of us. 



Left. I K I c I 1) I i» I <i j; I |lo" I K I A I H~| Right. 



been given. The men of Cos F, C, D and B turned 
to their left and ran east — toward Sam Poffenbersrer's 
Go's H, A, K and E turned to the right and ran west 
— toward the Smoketown road. As fast as the 
respective companies " uncovered," they came to 
" Front " and advanced to the front, still running. In 
other words, after Co. B had run east and Co. E west, 
the length of their company, each man turned to the 
front (or the woods) and the company ran till B was 
left of G, and E was right of I, which being done B 
and E quit running and took up the ordinary step. 
It will be seen that D had twice as far to run to the 
east, and K twice as far to the west, and that G and 
A ran three times, and F and H four times as far as 
B and E had done. 

I have been so circumstantial in describing all this 
for two reasons. First, because standing to-day on 
the battle line of the loth Maine (which is the posi- 
tion the enemy occupied at the time the loth was de- 
ploying), and looking over the fence northeast into 
Sam Poffenberger's field, as the Confederates did, 
one will see how it was that when the loth Me., with 
about 300 * men, came to deploy and to advance 
afterward, the Smoketown fence, and the trees of 
Beal and Goss, with " the bushes," were an obstacle 
to the right companies, and the ledge would have 

* Tlie 10th Maine went into battle with 21 officers, and 27G men with 

Loss. ;') officers and 28 men killed and mortally wounded. 

i) officers and 3.5 men wounded. 

Total killed and wounded 71, or 24 per cent, of number engaged. 


been somewhat so to tlic left companies if Capt. Jor- 
dan hiul not iKilted his division* beliind it. He did 
this for shelter as the first reason, and because, per- 
ceivinLi; there was no Union force on our left, he knew 
it was better to ha\'e our left " refused " and hence 
not so easily " flanked " by the enemy. (See map.) 

Second, and more ])articularly, I wish to state that 
on Nov. 9, 1S94, Major W'm. N. Robbins, 4th Ala- 
bama, Law's brii;ade, Hood's division of the Confed- 
erate army, met me by appointment on the field and 
compared experiences. We had previously had a 
long correspondence, in which he persistently referred 
to seeing a " hesitating " Union regiment which he 
ordered his troops to fire into. The result of this 
fire was the dispersion of the Union regiment, where- 
upon he himself went over towards his left and at- 
tended to affairs nearer the great cornfield. After a 
great deal of correspondence with every Union and 
Confederate regiment that fought in the vicinity, I 
could not learn of any Union regiment that was dis- 
persed, either in Sam Poffenberger's field, or in the 
" field of stone piles," nor could the Major determine, 
by consulting the map alone, whether it was the 
Smoketown road or Joe Poffenberger's bypath that 
was on his left when the Union regiment dispersed. 

In November, '94, when we met on the ground, he 
was sure that the Smoketown road was on his left. 
Hence it was plain that it could be only the loth 
Maine that " dispersed." 

Yet we certainly did not ! ! 

* A regimental division is two companies; C and F in tlic present case. 


For a little while it was a very dark problem ; then 
it dawned upon me that from where the Major stood he 
did not see (because of the slight rise of land between 
us) the movement of our center and right as we de- 
ployed, while the running to the east of Go's F, C, D 
and G appeared to him precisely like a dispersion. 
I do not know a better illustration of how difficult it 
is to see things in battle as they really are happening. 

With this vexed question settled, it becomes easier 
to understand the movements of other regiments, but 
these do not concern us now, further than that there 
was no other regiment at the time and place for Maj. 
Robbins to " disperse." 

The result of this extensive correspondence assures 
me that Gen. Mansfield was wounded by Maj. Rob- 
bins' command, to which I will refer presently. 

The reader will readily see how easily we can re- 
member these prominent features of the field, and 
how surely we can identify our old position after the 
lapse of years. We are not confronted with the diffi- 
cult task which those have who fought in the open 
field with no striking landmarks near ; and where 
the position of the fences have been changed. 

To resume the narrative : The enemy fell back 
as we approached. On arriving at the fence, we 
opened fire, and then rushed into the woods for such 
cover as the trees, &c., offered. The enemy also was 
well scattered through the woods, behind numerous 
ledges, logs, trees and piles of cord wood, a few men 
only being east of the Smoketown road, which at that 
time was not fenced. 


The fire of the enemy was exceedingly well aimed ; 
and as the distance between us was only about one 
hundred yards we had a bloody time of it. 

We had fired only a few rounds, before some of us 
noticed Gens. Mansfield and Crawford, and other 
mounted officers, over on the Croasdale Knoll, which, 
with the intervening ground, was open woods. 
Mansfield at once came galloping down the hill and 
passed through the scattered men of the right com- 
panies, shouting " Cease firing, you are firing into our 
own men ! " He rode very rapidly and fearlessly till 
he reached the place where our line bent to the rear 
(behind the fence). Captain Jordan now ran forward 
as far as the fence, along the top of the ledge behind 
which his division was sheltered, and insisted that Gen. 
Mansfield should " Look and see." He and Sergt. 
Burnham pointed out particular men of the enemy, 
who were not 50 yards away, that were then aiming 
their rifles at us and at him. Doubtless the General 
was wounded while talking with Jordan ; at all events 
he was convinced, and remarked, " Yes, you are 
right." He then turned his horse and passed along 
to the lower land where the fence was down, and at- 
tempted to go through, but the horse, which also ap- 
peared to be wounded, refused to step into the trap- 
like mass of rails and rubbish, or to jump over. The 
General thereupon promptly dismounted and led the 
horse into Sam Poffenberger's field. I had noticed 
the General when he was with Crawford on the 
Croasdale Knoll, and had followed him with my eye 
in all his ride. Col. Beal was having a great deal of 


trouble with his horse, which was wounded and ap- 
peared to be trying to throw the Colonel, and I was 
slow in starting from the Colonel to see what Mans- 
field's gestures meant. I met him at the gap in the 
fence. As he dismounted his coat blew open, and I 
saw that blood was streaming clown the right side of 
his vest. 

The General was very quick in all his motions and 
attempted to mount as soon as the horse had got 
through the fence ; but his strength was evidently 
failing, and he yielded to the suggestion that we 
should take him to a surgeon. What became of the 
orderly and the horse none of us noticed. Sergt. 
Joe Merrill, of Co. F, helped carry the General off; 
a young black man, who had just come uj) tlie ravine 
from the direction of Sam Poffenberger s, was pressed 
into service. He was very unwilling to come with 
us, as he was hunting for Capt. Somebody's* frying- 
pan, the loss of which disturbed him more than the 
National calamity. Joe Merrill was so incensed at 
the Contraband's sauciness, his indifference to the 
danger, and his slovenly way of handling the General, 
that he begged me to put down the General and " fix 
things." It turned out that Joe's intention was to 
" fix " the darkey, whom he cuffed and kicked most 
unmercifully. We then got a blanket and other men, 
and I started off ahead of the re-formed squadf to 
find a Suro-eon. 

* He named an officer and regiment of Hooker's Corps, both of which I 
forgot before the day was ended. 

f Sergt. Joe Merrill, Co. F; Private Storer S. Knight, Co. B; Trivate 
James Sheridan, Co. C. 


The road had appeared to be full of ambulances a 
half hour before, but all were gone now and we carried 
the General clear to Sam Poffenberger's woods. 
Here I saw Gen. Geo. H. Gordon, commanding the 
3d brigade of our division, told him the story and 
asked him to send an orderly or aide for a surgeon, 
but he said he could not as he had neither with him. 
He was moving the 107th N. Y., a new, large reg- 
iment; an ambulance was found and two medical offi- 
cers, just inside the woods, a few steps north of where 
Sam Poffenberger's gate now hangs, marked K on 
the map. The younger doctor put a flask to the Gen- 
eral's mouth. The whiskey, or whatever it was, 
choked the General and added greatly to his distress. 
We put the General into the ambulance and that was 
the last I saw of him. Lieut. Edw. R. Witman, 46th 
Penn., an aide to Gen. Crawford, had been sent back 
by Gen. Crawford, who evidently saw Mansfield in 
his fatal ride. I turned over ambulance* and all to 
him and returned to the regiment ; but when I arrived 
I found that Tyndale's and Stainrook's brigades of 
Greene's division had swept the woods a little while 
after I had gone, carrying a dozen or two of the loth 
with them, and that Gen. Gordon had followed later 
with the 107th New York. Only twenty or thirty 
men of the loth Maine were left on the ground; 
the colors and the others had gone out and taken 
position somewhere back of the Croasdale Knoll. 

* Doctor Francis B. Davidson, of the 12')tli Tenn., met tlic ambulance near 
Line's house and turned it in there, and there the General wa.s treated and 
died, as everybody knows. 


We buried some of the dead of our regiment in the 
north edge of " the bushes," near to the Smoketown 
road fence. During the remainder of the day a very 
laree number of the ofhcers and men of the reo^iment 
were detailed by various medical officers to bring off 
wounded men from " the cornfield " and woods, for 
the ambulance department was not organized at that 
time as it was later in the war, and was not equal to 
the task. 

We also buried the Confederate dead that fell in 
our immediate front, but somehow the cracker-box 
head boards were marked (20 GEO), and this little 
error made trouble enough for me as Historian of the 
regimental association. 

At niixht we bivouacked north of Sam Poffcnbero^- 
er's woods, and on the iSth marched into East Woods, 
just beyond where we fought, halted, stacked arms, 
and during the truce dispersed to look at all the 
sights in our neighborhood. 

On the 19th we were moved into the woods again 
and took a more extended view of the field. 

In June, 1863, the loth Maine Battalion, in its 
march to Gettysburg, passed near the field, and four 
or five of those who had been in the battle turned 
aside to see the old grounds. The graves near " the 
bushes " and those of the " 20th Georgia" were just as 
we left them. 

Lt.-Col. Fillebrown also visited the field some time 
during the war, and a party was sent out to bring 
home the remains of Capt. Furbish, which had been 
buried near Sam Poffenberger's. 


It will therefore be seen that almost every one of 
the loth Maine, who came out of the battle unharmed, 
had a chance to view the field and to impress its to- 
pographical features in his mind. Therefore, when a 
dozen or more of us who had fought in the battle, 
visited the field in 1889, we had no difficulty what- 
ever in finding our locality, and our testimony is suffi- 
cient ; but more can be cited. 

Mr. Sam Poffenberger, by whom I have been most 
hospitably entertained in two of my trips (1891 and 
1894), assures me that the loth Maine graves re- 
mained near " the bushes " until removed to the Na- 
tional Cemetery. He also says the graves of the 
iiith Penn. Vols., during all that time, were under 
the ledge where tlie left of our regiment (Co. F) 
rested. The iiith Penn. Vols, relieved us. 

The course of the march of the 107th N. Y. has 
been identified by members of that regiment who 
have visited the field ; and letters from several of 
them confirm the statements made on page 17. 

The line of march of the 3d Maryland and i02d 
N. Y., who were on the left of the iiith Penn. Vols., 
has been fully identified and exactly joins our identi- 

For substantial evidence of the truth of our narra- 
tive we will say that Maj. Jordan still has the cord 
which fell from the General's hat as he waved it at 
our left companies in trying to make them cease fir- 

The hat itself, which fell off inside the fence when 
the General iiavc himself into the care of Joe Merrill 


and the others of us, got into the hands of Gen. Nye 
(Capt. of Co. K) and he forwarded it to the family, and 
has the acknowledgment of receipt of the same. 

Geo. W. Knowlton, Esq., Boston, Mass., has a pair 
of blood-stained gloves sent home by his father, Maj. 
Wm. Knowlton, (Capt. Co. F, but not present at An- 
tietam) who wrote and afterward explained to Mrs. 
Knowlton that one of his men picked them up and 
gave them to him. 

It will now be seen that thouo:h the resfimental ex- 
cursion of 1889 was positive of the position of the 
regiment, we could not decide exactly where Mans- 
field fell, for it so happened that the main witnesses 
of the wounding were not then present. On return- 
turning home, I made a special study of the facts, 
and found that Maj. Jordan was sure he could find 
" the boulder " which he mounted to attract the atten- 
tion of Gen. Mansfield. Maj. Redlon, who was in 
command of Co. D, a man of remarkable memory 
and faculty of observation, also assured me that Maj. 
Jordan was there. Jordan is a short man, and nat- 
urally mounted the ledge to " get even " with the Gen- 
eral. Sergeant Burnham, of Co. C, while living, fre- 
quently spoke of this to me. 

On September 17, 1891, Maj. Jordan, Surgeon 
Howard and myself accepted the invitation of the 
125th Penn. to visit the field with them. Major Jor- 
dan readily found the ledge without my assistance, 
on the afternoon of the i6th, but " the boulder* " was 

* An out-cropping spur of limestone ledge, common all over the field. 


not visible. During the evening Mr. Sam. Poffen- 
beru:er told of the chan<^e of fence and the buildino; 
of the new road. 

Early in the morning we went again, and there 
under the fence, with a small red cedar growing over 
it, was " the boulder." We easily changed the fence 
and obliterated the road in our mind's eyes, and 
thereupon everything came out clearly. We know 
precisely where the General sat on his horse when 
he talked with Jordan, and there it is, as we under- 
stand it, he was wt)unded. We borrowed tools from 
our host and set up our marker forthwith for the 
edification of our 125th Penn, comrades, who soon 
came troojiing down on us. Maj. Jordan staid by 
his marker all day, defending the truth most vigor- 
ously. I went with Capt, Gardner and Lieut. Dune- 
gan to the place where they say Mansfield fell from 
his saddle and was borne off by two of their men. 
The place is about 600 yards from where Mansfield 
was shot. From others of the 125th it was evident 
that Gen. Mansfield's riderless horse did bring up at 
about the })lace pointed out, but we know the fatal 
shot came to the (ieneral himself while he halted in 
front of Captain Jordan, 

The thoroughly good feeling shown to us by all of 
these good fellows of the old 125th has not been for- 
gotten, and never can be; and in telling the true 
story I am not a little embarrassed with the fact that 
I seem to make reflections upon some of them. 



It has been stated that the loth Maine was the ex- 
treme left of Hooker's command (ist and 12th 
corps) during the 40 minutes, more or less, the regi- 
ment was engaged. The Confederate troops opposed 
to us and to our neighbors* on the right were from 
Hood's division.! 

The 4th Alabama was the right regiment of all, and 
they came up the Smoketown road from the West 
Woods in a hurry. On reaching East Woods they 
deployed and advanced "inline." On nearing the 
woods Maj. Robbins met what he understood at the 
time was a half regiment of Georgia troops, who told 
him they had already been in the fight and would go 
in again. He ordered them to form on his right and 
advance in line with him. All was done in great 
haste, and in consequence of this and the broken 
character of the woods and the rush for shelter, the 
two commands were mixed all together, the Georgians, 
however, being naturally in preponderance on the 
Confederate right. Some time after they had been 
engaged the 5th Texas, under Capt. Turner, was sent 
in by Gen. Hood, and they mixed in with the others 
wherever a chance offered. All this I have learned 
by correspondence with many members from each of 
Hood's regiments. 

* These were, as we understand, the 128th Penn., a new, large regiment, 
and the fragments of the 28th N. Y. and 40th Peini. I have not definitely 
learned exactly where the last two were while the 10th Maine was fighting, 
but we saw very plainly the 128th Penn. upon the Croasdale Ivnoll. 

t Law's brigade and Wofford's or " The Texas " brigade. 


After a long and intensely cxcitinL;- hunt for the 
Georo^ia reiriment that this battalion belonired to — 
Major Robl)ins renienilx'rinL;- only that their number 
was "in the twenties" — I hax-e learned that it was 
the skirmisher battalion of (len. Cr)lquitt's brigade of 
D. H. Hill's division, eom[)osed of one company each 
(Co. A generally) from the five regiments of his brig- 
ade, viz: 6th, 23d, 27th and 28th Georgia and 13th 
Alabama, under Capt. Wm. M. Arnold, of the 6th 
Georgia. We therefore made a mistake in the num- 
ber only when we marked those head boards " 20 
Georofia." This battalion Gfot into the fisfht an hour 
or more before their brigade and fought independently 
of it. The troops under Robbins, Turner and Arnold 
are the only Confederates, so far as I can learn, that 
did heavy fighting in East Woods.* There were no 
better troops in the Confederate army ; they suffered 
a loss in killed and wounded of nearly one-half, and 
probably inflicted a still larger numerical loss upon 
the Union troops. 


We will next look at the Official Reports bearing 
on the subject. (See Vol. XIX, Part I, Official 
Record, War of the Rebellion, U. S. Gov't j^rinting 

I. In Lt.-Col. Fillebrown'st report (loth Maine) 

* Garland's brigade was in tli(! wodds a sliort tinit', and a few men from 
some Confederate command were in the extreme northern edge when Tyn- 
dale approached it. 

t Dear old " Jim" has long since " passed over to the other side," and I 
cannot tell why he made such a strange report, nor why he didn't let me, 
Ms Adjutant, know about it and have a copy to tile away. 


there is no mention of the event, nor is there any- 
thing else that has the merit of being both true and 
worth recording. (See page 489.) 

Ordinarily he was one of the most genial and 
accommodating of men ; but when sick and vexed, as 
plainly he was when he made that report, he could 
dash off just such a jumble, and send it in to head 
quarters before the ink was dry. 

It is due to him to say that he was run over and 
kicked in the bowels by Col. Beal's horse just at the 
moment Col. Beal himself was wounded ; and when, 
but for the untimely kick, " Jim " might have led us 
on to victory and covered himself with glory. 

II. In Col. Jacob Higgins' (125th Penn.) report we 
have — 

"Previous to this Gen. Mansfield fell, some of my men carry- 
" ing him off the field on their mnskets until a blanket was pro- 
« cured." (Page 492, Vol. XIX.) 

It cannot be determined from the report, exactly 
when or where " this " was ; but it was plainly early 
in the morning and before the 125th entered West 
Wood, where (and not in East Wood) they fought. 

This report annoyed me much when I first saw it 
in 1887, but Col. Higgins has written to me that he 
knows nothing personally of the event but reported 
it because officers whom he trusted assured him it 
was so. 

III. Col. Knipe, (46 Penn.) who made the brigade 
report, simply mentions that Mansfield was wounded. 

IV. In Gen. Crawford's report we read : 


« Gen. Mansfield, the eori)S coinniander, had been mortally 
"wounded, and was borne past my position to the rear." (l*age 
485, Vol. XTX, Part I.) 

This " position " is not defined further than to state 
that it was " Miller's " woods, or " East woods," as we 
now call them. 

V. Gen. Williams, commanding; ist division and 
succeeding Mansfield in command of the corps, says: 

" While the deployment [of the 12th eorps] was going on and 
<' before tlie leading regiments were fairly engaged, it was re- 
" ported to me that the veteran and distinguished commander 
" of the corps was mortally wounded." (Page 475, Vol. XIX.) 

VI. Gen. Geo. H. Gordon, commanding 3d brig- 
ade, ist division, says : 

" Gen. ]Manstield liad been mortally wounded at th(' commence- 
"ment of tlie action, while making a bohl reconnoissance of the 
"woods through which we had just dashed." (Page 495, VoL 

VII. We find the following in the report of Gen. 
Edwin V. Sumner, "commanding 2d and 12th corps." 
tie also cc^mmanded the ist corps upon his arrival in 
our part of the field, about 9 a. m. : 

" General ]\Ianslield, a wortliy and gallant veteran, was un- 
" fortunately mortally wounded while leading his corps into 
" action." (Page 275, Vol. XIX.) 

VIII. Gen. Hooker, commanding ist corps and 
having the 12th under his orders, makes no mention 
of the wounding. 

IX. Gen. McClellan, commanding the Union 
army, thus refers to the deployment of the 12th corps: 


<' During the deployment, that gallant veteran, Gen. Mansfield, 
"fell mortally wounded while examining the ground in front of 
"his troops." (Page 56, Vol. XIX.) 

It should be stated that Vol. XIX was not published 
until October, 1887 — twenty-five years after the battle. 

Besides these unsatisfactory official reports, we have 
the following authentic accounts, that have been 
made public from time to time, and should have 
furnished the world with the truth, I noticed that 
the newspapers of the day had little to say about the 
event; accordingly, a few weeks after the battle I 
wrote an account and forwarded it to my father, who 
sent it to the Hon. Benjamin Douglas, a prominent 
citizen of Middletown, Conn. — Mansfield's home. 
Mr. Douglas acknowledged the receipt, and showed 
his appreciation when we were publishing our regi- 
mental history,* by furnishing gratis the portraits of 
the general. This letter was published in the Port- 
land, Me., papers. 

The regimental history, published in 1S71, has a 
very minute account of the event. About 700 copies 
of it were sold. 

The report for 1862 of the Adjutant General of 
Maine also has a narrative of the battle, embraced in 
the report of Col. Beal, who returned to duty before 
the end of the year. (Page 74, main report.) 

* History lst-10th-29tli Maine regiment. May 3, 1861, to June 21, 1866. 
Stephen Berry, Publisher, Portland, Me. 



A singular phase in this case is the fact that none 
of Gen. Mansfield's suljordinate commanders except- 
ing Gen. Crawford, and none of Mansfield's staff, wit- 
nessed the wounding. In the three days he was our 
commander none of us saw a staff officer with him. 
It was only a vague memory of a lost and forgotten 
general order, and the reference to " Captain Dyer " 
in the General's memorial volume,* that suggested 
the possibility there was a staff. In 1890 to '94 I 
made a special and persistent effort to learn who his 
staff were ; also who was the orderly and who the 
colored servant that we saw with him. The orderly 
and servant we have not. found. After much writing 
I learned that Samuel M. Mansfield,! a s :)n of the 
General, had been appointed an Aide but had not 
been able to join his father. Maj. Clarence H. Dyer, 
at that time Captain and A. A. G., had accompanied 
the General from Washington and was on duty with 
him till his death. 

Furthermore, Gen. James W. Forsyth, then a Cap- 
tain, (familiarly known as " Toney") was temporarily 
assigned as aide-de-camp to Mansfield by Gen. 
McClellan, at whose head quarters Forsyth was then 
serving. These two were " present " ; but Gen. 
Mansfield kept them flying so constantly that none 
of us recoijnized them as his staff. 

* Memorial of Gen. Mansfield, United States Army, Boston, T. li. Marvin 
& Son, 18()2. 

t Now Lt.-Col. of Engineers, U. S. A. 


There are also shadowy hints from various sources 
that a Lieutenant of cavalry, name and regiment not 
stated, lost his opportunity for a day of glory by too 
frequent sips of what was known as " commissary." 

Gen. Forsyth writes (1891) that he was sent by 
Mansfield to " bring up the divisions of the corps " 
and that he " was not with Gen. Mansfield when he 
received his death wound." 

Maj. Dyer writes (1891): 

'' At the time the General was mortally wounded, I was not 
"near him, as he had given me an order to bring the command 
" of Gen. Crawford to the front. It was halted somewhat to 
" the rear and our left. When I returned I found that the 
" General was being removed to the rear, but by the men of 
"what regiment I do not know. I remained witli him until he 
"died, wliich must have been about 1 o'clock p. m., 17th. * * 
" Where the General fell was a little to our left of the woods — 
"a cornfield was direiitly in front. I am very sure that the 
" General was not killed by the men of the [Confederate] com- 
" mand in front of the 10th Maine. I am positive as to this." 

Here is another instance how impossible it is to 

see everything as it is in battle. Apparently Maj. 

Dyer did not see the General hurrying the loth 
Maine across the brigade front. 


The next question that arises is, why did Gen. Mans- 
field suppose the loth Maine was firing into Union 
troops ? 

While the corps was waiting in the vicinity of Joe 
Poffenberger's, (marked 6:20 on the map) from about 


6:20 to 7:20 A.M., Gen. Mansfield was seen frequentl}' 
by almost every soldier of the corps. In hundreds of 
letters, from the various regiments and batteries, 
there is a common agreement that the General was 
moving around the field continually, lie seemed to 
be everywhere. Although he appeared like a calm 
and dignified old gentleman when he took command 
of the corps two days before, on this fatal morning 
he was the personification of vigor, dash and enthusi- 
asm. As before stated, he remained some minutes 
at the northwest corner of East Woods (W on the 
map), observing the battle. One gets a fine view of 
the field from there and he must have orot a ofood in- 
sight into the way Hooker's corps was fighting. Pre- 
sumably the tide was turning against Hooker, and as 
likely Mansfield had been called upon by him for re- 
inforcements, but when Mansfield left the northwest 
corner to set his corps in motion, the East Woods, 
if I have rightly interpreted the reports and corre- 
spondence, was still in possession of Union troops. 
Probal^ly, almost at the same time that Mansfield 
quitted his lookout, the Confederate brigade of Eaw 
(Hood's division) came charging out of West Woods, 
the 4th Alabama on the right running uj) the Smoke- 
town road, as before stated, and entering the woods 
at the south-west corner where the Georgia battalion 
joined on its right. The movements of all of Hood's 
troops were exceedingly rapid. 

How much time elapsed from Mansfield's leaving 
his lookout to his being wounded, I can only roughly 
estimate at from fifteen to twenty minutes, but it 


was time enough to change the condition of affairs 
very materially, and I cannot help thinking the time 
passed very quickly to him, and that he did not real- 
ize the fact that the remnants of Rickett's division 
had been driven out of the woods and cornfield, nor 
even did he suppose it was possible. Wise or un- 
wise, it was entirely in keeping with everything else 
the General did during the three days he was with us, 
for him to come himself and see what we were doing; 
and like everything else, he did it with the utmost 
promptness. It was this habit of personal attention 
to details, and his other characteristic of rapid flying 
here and there, that make it so dif^ficult for many of 
the soldiers of the 12th corps to believe he was 
wounded when and where he was. 


In this narrative it has been impossible to avoid 
frequent reference to myself and to my regiment, but 
there is nothing in the Mansfield incident of special 
credit to any of us. We were there and saw it; we 
live and can prove it ; this is the whole story in a nut 

I have always regretted that I left the regiment even 
on so important a mission. At the time, I supposed 
it was only to be for a moment, and that with three 
field officers on duty I could be spared. As for the 
regiment, we succeeded so very much better later in 
the war, that we have not been in the hal3it of mak- 
ing great claims for the part we took in Antietam. 


Many other Uni<in refrimcnts fou<j:ht lon2:cr, strucrirled 
liardcr, did more effective service and lost more men 
than we. 

Tlie Confederates opposed to us appeared to be 
equal to us in numbers and they were superior in ex- 
perience and all that e\})erience gives. On all other 
fields, from the be<i'innin<^ to the end of our long: ser- 
vice, we never had to face their equals, l^verybody 
knows that troops fighting under the eye of Stone- 
wall Jackson, and directed by Hood, were a terrible 
foe. Our particular opponents were all good marks- 
meii, and the constant call of their officers, " Aim low," 
appeared to us entirely unnecessary. 

It was an awful morning ; our comrades went down 
one after another with a most disheartening fre- 
quency, pierced with bullets from men who were half 
concealed, or who dodged quickly back to a safe 
cover the moment they fired. We think it was 
enough for us to "hold our own" till Cireene's men 
swept in with their " terrible and overwhelming at- 
tack." * 

From all this story, I hope the reader will see why 
the wounding of Gen. Mansfield, which is the all im- 
portant part in this narrative, is only a secondary 
matter to the men of the Tenth Maine Reiriment, 
and why misrei^resentations and errors have gone un- 
disputed so many years. We never considered it onr 
business to set history aright, until we saw that our 
testimony was discredited and found our statement of 

Quotation from Major Robbiiis, 



fact treated as only one of the many stones of the 
wagon-drivers of Sharpsburg. 


The following map is based upon on(^ issued Xovemher, 1894, 
hy tlie " Antietam Board." This in turn was based u})on the 
so-called '-Micliler" map from the office of the U. S. Engineers, 
which, while correct in the main, lias many errors of detail, and 
it is not likely that all of them have yet been discovered by the 
Board. Indeed, one object of the Board in issuing the map, was 
to invite criticism and corrections from the soldiers and others. 

The positions of tlie troo})S cannot be shown with anything 
like accuracy and clearness on so small a map, and are omitted 
excei)ting a few needed to illustrate the narrative, but it may 
be said in a general way, that just before Gen. Mansfield was 
wounded, the Union forces, under Hooker, were pushed out of 
" the great cornfield " and the East Woods. The 12th Corps, 
(Mansfield's), with some help from tlie remnants of the 1st 
Corps (Hooker's), stopped the advance of the Confederates under 
Hood, and in turn drove them back to West Woods. 

At the time Mansfield was wounded, Major Robbins' com- 
mand in East Woods was the extreme right of tlie troops of the 
Confederate left wing (Jackson's) actually engaged. Their line 
ran, with many turns and several intervals, from the woods 
through the great cornfield to the northern part of West Woods. 
Not many men in either army were firing their muskets at the 
moment Mansfield was shot, but the two or three thousand on 
each side, wlio were engaged, were very fiercely contending for 
their positions. 



000 838 321 2